The first time I heard about an elevator pitch I chuckled. It sounded absolutely crazy to me. For those who don’t know about an elevator pitch, allow me to break it down as only I can.
The premise: imagine coming to work early on a Monday morning. You hit the elevator button, the doors open and you get in. Right behind you running at full speed, clearly in a hurry, is the CEO of your company whom you’ve never met and who could not pick you out of a line up if his/her life depended on it. You press the buttons to your respective floors. You go to the 8th, he/she goes to the 14th. Let’s say there are 15 seconds or less between the lobby and the 8th floor.
Your choices: do you stand there and awkwardly wait until you hear the ding of the elevator signaling that you’ve reached your floor, or do you use those seconds to make yourself memorable in the mind of your CEO?
The elevator pitch method suggests that the latter should always be your choice. Making yourself memorable in the minds of others may ensure advancements. You never know the difference that one person can make in your life.
As authors, our mindset should always be that we are standing in that elevator with a reader, publisher, literary agent, or anybody else we can sell our book to. We have 15 seconds or less to get them to fall head-over-heels in love with our book.
Why, then, did I chuckle when I heard about the elevator pitch? Because it requires condensing something that took months or even years to write in just 15 seconds. Impossible! How can all the intricate parts of the plot or the different aspects of characters be summarized in 15 seconds? It probably took longer than 15 seconds to even come up with a name for one of those characters.
So how can one create the perfect elevator pitch? I haven’t come up with the right formula. But I do know that a person’s eyes tend to glaze over when you go past that allotted 15 second timeframe. After a couple of trials and errors, I think I found my 15 second elevator pitch. It goes a little something like this (one moment as I clear my throat): A Few Good Friends is the story of four best friends whose journey for happiness leads them to find the power of true friendship. Joanna, Jessica, Victoria, and Nicole lead separate lives, but together they are able to overcome self-doubt, betrayal, broken marriages, and abuse.
Did you time that? Did I make my 15 second mark? Most importantly, did I pique your interest? Don’t worry, I won’t take offense if I didn’t. Remember the best elevator pitch comes from trial and error. After practicing it different ways in front of multiple audiences you learn which words work and which words fall flat. So, grab your stopwatch, a thesaurus, a few good friends (get it?) and practice until you come up with the perfect elevator pitch that will knock their socks off. Best of luck to you.
Helpful Tips: While there are no specific equations to create an elevator pitch, because it’s different depending on the author and genre, here are some tips that may prove useful.
- Short and to the point -Don’t ramble
- Peek audience interest
- Let them know what they can get from reading your book, why they would want to read your book e.g. “My book will remind you what being in love is like”
- Find a good hook – whether it be funny, compelling, shocking. This can even be a quote from your book
- One Sentence synopsis of the book
I am of the belief that there is a story within all of us. We just choose to tell it in different ways. Some discuss it with friends over a glass of wine; while some use it as a teaching tool; and others write it down and share it with the world.
In the age of eBook readers and quick and inexpensive publishing options, the latter is fast becoming the go-to move. Most industry insiders frown upon such writers as not real authors. The feeling is that if you or your work is not good enough for a traditional publishing house, then you are not a real writer. However, I think that what defines a writer has changed. Gone are the days of writers being the elite among us; those of distinction and class who are so massively intelligent that it is painfully intimidating to have a conversation with them. What we have today are people who just want to tell a story; now whether it’s a good story remains to be seen.
Writing is personal; it’s deep, it’s this feeling that comes over us and whispers in our ears that we have something to say and that our voice matters. Now the talent to write is a different story. We were all put on this earth to do something special, to thrive, and live in the truth of our creation. Most were not gifted with the talent for storytelling, but it does not mean that they don’t have a story to tell.
Those who were born to write come alive within the words. They have a flow and a comfort that allows every word to dance across the page and expand the imagination of the reader. That’s what makes storytelling an art. So yes, not everyone has that ability, but everyone does have a story. As a writer I will never be able to tell everyone’s story because I have not lived everyone’s life. I have only lived mine and can only tell that which I know; which sometimes can be not much or way too much info.
Those of us who appreciate literature understand that writing is the celebration of life. It awakens our consciousness making us believe the unbelievable, love the unlovable, and achieve the unachievable. We relish in good stories and respect those who tell it. Literature is our life, so I guess that’s why most industry insiders protect it so greatly to the point of unacceptance.
Perhaps I’m that way as well. I simply adore great literature no matter who writes it or how they publish it. But I sometimes find myself in utter disgust when I find myself reading a poorly written work or where it is obvious that the author did not take the time to perfect his/her craft. I am not one of the elite nor am I massively intellectual. Who am I? I am a girl who loves a great story!
So, can we all write? Absolutely, we all have a story to tell. Should we all write? No, not if we are not willing to learn the craft if we don’t already have the talent and vision.
Moral of my story: Tell your story the best way you know how, but never ever forget to live the truth of your own creation.